Ben Franklin News

Ben Franklin Announces Innovation Award Winners

Winners to be Honored at May 7th i xchange Event

The Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania has announced the winners of the Northeastern Pennsylvania Innovation Awards. Winners will be honored at the Ben Franklin i xchange event, scheduled for 5:30 PM on Tuesday, May 7th at the Zoellner Arts Center at Lehigh University. 

Awards will be presented in five categories, to companies or individuals who have achieved business success through Ben Franklin funding and assistance, have helped others to achieve success, or have improved their businesses through innovation. Each award recipient represents a company or person that exemplifies achievement in that particular category. 

The purposes of the innovation awards are to congratulate winners on their success and achievement, to highlight the effectiveness of the Ben Franklin program, and to inform entrepreneurs and established manufacturers about the resources that are available to them in northeastern Pennsylvania.

The 2013 Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania Innovation Awards winners are: 

Entrepreneurial Achievement

The company that best exemplifies the quintessential entrepreneurial spirit: a combination of ingenuity, hard work, and innovation that has resulted in the creation of a successful and growing business venture.

CyOptics, Inc., Breinigsville
Ed J. Coringrato, Jr, Chief Executive Officer 

The early- to mid-2000s were filled with uncertainty in the telecom optoelectronics sector. CyOptics not only survived this difficult time; it thrived by building intellectual property and market share. In addition to developing its own technology and products, the company made key acquisitions that helped it to become a global leader in its sector. 

CyOptics manufactures Indium Phosphide-based optical components that enable applications in the fiber, cable, data center, and long haul/metro segments of the communications network, as well as in defense and aerospace, high-performance computing, and security sectors. CyOptics is one of the few companies in the optoelectronics components industry with vertically integrated technology and manufacturing platforms that span from device fabrication to proprietary, highly automated assembly and test facilities.

Thanks to astute leadership and outstanding execution, CyOptics has grown rapidly and expanded its client base to more than 180 customers worldwide. Despite a recessionary economy, the company achieved a compound annual sales growth rate of 34% from 2005 to 2012. In early 2005, 86 people worked at CyOptics in the Lehigh Valley. Today, the company employs more than 330 regionally and 837 worldwide.

Incubator Graduate

The company that has best demonstrated successful Ben Franklin business incubation. The business has been operated skillfully and confidently, meeting all challenges from the development of the product concept, execution of the business and technical plan, successful start-up and operation, to graduation from the incubator.   

Computer Aid, Inc., Allentown
Anthony J. Salvaggio, President 

From its start in the early 1980s, Computer Aid, Inc. (CAI) has focused on building a business that provides dramatically improved productivity for the information technology software sector. For most of its life, CAI has been a worldwide leader in IT metrics, process, and productivity. That capability typically provides CAI’s clients with a 30 percent cost reduction and improved quality and capability. 

Now a global operation, Computer Aid traces its beginning and initial success to support within the Ben Franklin Business Incubator. The company is a classic incubator success story, benefitting not only from the affordable working space, but also from the assistance and mentorship that helped accelerate the start-up’s growth. 

CAI now manages active engagements with Fortune 1000 companies and is a trusted partner of these clients. In addition to its U.S. headquarters, CAI also has offices in the Philippines, India, Australia, England, and Brazil. Starting with just two employees at its inception, Computer Aid today has more than 3,000 full-time associates. 

Product Innovation

The company that best demonstrates the commercialization of a unique, innovative product that creatively and effectively meets a market need.

Micro Interventional Devices, Langhorne
Michael Whitman, President and Chief Executive Officer 

Beginning at Ben Franklin TechVentures in 2010, Micro Interventional Devices has developed a new, minimally invasive product for surgeons and cardiologists to use in life-saving and life-extending structural heart valve repair and replacement procedures. The company’s Permaseal™ closure device is a disruptive technology that will enable crucial procedures to be conducted through a small incision between the ribs as opposed to open heart surgery. Before the product, only 10% of patients in need of aortic valve repair were considered candidates for the high-risk procedure. Permaseal will reduce operating room time, abate blood loss, and simplify complex structural heart repair procedures, addressing critical unmet needs in structural heart repair. 

Permaseal is particularly appropriate for the increasingly popular Transcatheter Aortic Valve Implantation procedure. Company leaders have attracted substantial follow-on funding that complements Ben Franklin’s $450,000 investment. Micro Interventional expanded to its own manufacturing facility in Langhorne in early 2013, and will continue its clinical trials in Europe. It is estimated that the global transapical closure device market will exceed $400 million by 2015. 

Manufacturing Achievement

The company that best exemplifies achievement in the manufacturing arena, showing a proven track record of success and an unbending commitment to achieving and maintaining excellence in manufacturing. 

East Penn Manufacturing Co., Lyon Station
Robert P. Flicker, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer 

East Penn Manufacturing has been producing and recycling lead-acid batteries for a wide variety of markets for more than 67 years. The company is a very significant regional employer that has worked with Ben Franklin repeatedly since 1987, partnering with Lehigh University and the Enterprise Systems Partners, the Penn College of Technology’s Plastics Innovation and Resource Center, and Northampton Community College’s Emerging Technology Applications Center. These connections assisted East Penn in implementing innovations that increase efficiencies, reduce costs, and enhance profitability.

East Penn’s most recent work focused on developing a special process for the company’s new UltraBattery. This advanced lead-acid battery is being used in Smart Grid projects with or without renewable energy, such as wind turbines and solar power, as well as in hybrid electric vehicles, thereby enabling these alternative energy solutions. Last fall, East Penn announced plans to increase battery manufacturing capacity and create jobs with an expansion of its Lyon Station-based manufacturing campus. East Penn currently employs more than 6,500 people in the Greater Reading area, and its growth has consistently exceeded average industry rates. 


An individual whose strong vision, dedication, and commitment have helped the Ben Franklin Technology Partners accomplish its goals. This support demonstrates a sincere desire to see the region thrive. 

Edward Thompson, CPA
Consultant, Clarks Summit 

As a seasoned finance and accounting advisor to a number of Ben Franklin early-stage clients, Ed Thompson is enormously helpful, supportive, and proficient. Many start-ups experience the exhaustion of their initial capital investments, revenues that are not ramping up as quickly as planned, and panic setting in. Mr. Thompson enters with analysis and advice, helping young firms successfully navigate their typically difficult cash flow challenges. 

Mr. Thompson rapidly and effectively collects data, enhances financial reporting structures, and analyzes a client’s fiscal position. Then he presents the facts, along with short- and long-term solutions, in a clear manner without alienating the company’s management team. Addressing crucial activities from managing cash flow, to restructuring debt, to serving as part-time CFO, Mr. Thompson rolls up his sleeves to help companies at their most vulnerable times. His consulting work has saved companies that, together, have created numerous sustainable technology-based jobs throughout the region. 

The i xchange is the premier business technology networking event in northeastern Pennsylvania. Last year, more than 500 technology entrepreneurs, business people, economic developers, venture capitalists, political leaders, educators, students, bankers, lawyers, and accountants from Ben Franklin’s 21-county service area attended, and even more are expected this year. 

The i xchange will combine the presentation of Ben Franklin’s eighteenth annual Innovation Awards with a keynote address by Todd Buchholz. In his presentation, “Rush: Competing in a Chaotic Economy,” Buchholz will reveal why we need competition to keep us going and going strong. Weaving in everything from neuroeconomics to evolutionary biology to renaissance art to General Motors, Buchholz will convince you that the race to compete has not only made us stronger and smarter, it’s what we love and need. Todd Buchholz is an international economist, former White House senior economic advisor, Tiger Hedge Fund manager, former Harvard lecturer, and frequent TV and radio commentator. He has written several best-selling books on the economy, and is a widely sought speaker who “lights up economics with a wickedly sparkling wit,” says the Associated Press.

The entrance fee for the i xchange is $65 in advance or $75 the day of the event. To learn more or to register, go to or, e-mail, or call 610-758-5200. 

About the Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania:

The Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania links companies with experts, universities, funding, and other resources to help them prosper through innovation.  The Center strategy encompasses three key areas: developing early-stage, technology-based companies; helping established manufacturers creatively apply new technologies and business practices; and promoting an innovative community-wide infrastructure that fosters a favorable business environment for high-growth companies. The northeastern center is headquartered at Ben Franklin TechVentures® on the campus of Lehigh University in Bethlehem and is part of a four-center, state-funded economic development initiative.